Tuesday, 31 July 2012

China announces plans for 2013 Moon landing

The Chinese news agency Xinhua announced on July 31 that China will be sending its first unmanned lander to the Moon in the second half of 2013. Chang’e-3 will be the third lunar probe launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the first attempt at a landing. The lander/rover combination will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province as part of China’s continuing Lunar Exploration program. Read More

Apollo lunar flags still standing

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the US flag on the Moon. The image of Aldrin standing with the flag is one of the indelible images of that great day. But over the years, one question has vexed space buffs – what happened to the flag? In his book Return to Earth, Aldrin says that when the Lunar Module’s Ascent stage lifted off from Tranquility Base, he saw the flag topple over. Since no one could confirm what happened, it remained a mystery ... at least, until now. On July 27, NASA announced that its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) had solved the puzzle of the fate of the Apollo lunar flags... Continue Reading Apollo lunar flags still standing

Dynetics in negotions with NASA over using Apollo F1 engines for heavy lift

A legendary Space Age rocket engine that sent mankind to the Moon in 1969 may be brought back to power humanity’s return to that celestial body. Under a NASA request, Dynetics Inc of Huntsville, Alabama has submitted a proposal apparently studying the feasibility of reviving the F-1 rocket engine technology. Previously used to power the first stage of the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions to the Moon, it could now find use in NASA’s planned Space Launch System (SLS) due to enter service in 2017. .. Continue ReadingDynetics in negotions with NASA over using Apollo F1 engines for heavy lift

Chimera Energy develops fracking technique that uses no water

“Fracking” may sound like something out of Battlestar Galactica, but it’s actually short for “hydraulic fracturing.” It is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of the energy industry and its ability to open up previously unprofitable oil and gas resources in North America, Europe and China holds the promise of centuries of cheap, clean and abundant energy free of Middle Eastern control. However, it has raised the concerns of some environmentalists. Chimera Energy Corporation of Houston, Texas, has announced that they are licensing a new method for extracting oil and gas from shale fields that doesn't contaminate ground water resources because it uses exothermic reactions instead of water to fracture shale. .. Continue Reading Chimera Energy develops fracking technique that uses no water

Honda uses Asimo technology to get the elderly on their feet

We've been following Honda’s Stride Management Assist since its first unveiling in 2008, to the introduction of itssturdier cousin into the workplace and then its U.S. tour in 2009. Now the ASMIO spin off is scheduled to undergo field tests by Japan's National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG). The NCGG will test 40 units of the device on people with limited walking ability at the Elder Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center at Resora Obu Shopping Terrace in Obu, Japan... Continue Reading Honda uses Asimo technology to get the elderly on their feet

Lockheed Martin reveals glimpse of Sea Ghost UAV

Lockheed Martin has hinted at plans for a new UAV carrier combat aircraft, known as the UCLASS Sea Ghost. This makes the American defense contractor the fourth contender for the U.S. Navy’s unmanned carrier combat aircraft contract, joining Northrop’s X-47B, Boeing’s Phantom Ray and General Atomic’s Sea Avenger... Continue Reading Lockheed Martin reveals glimpse of Sea Ghost UAV

Monday, 30 July 2012

U.S. soldiers wired to record blast effects

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have been a major hazard for Coalition and NATO forces in Afghanistan for over the past decade. The toll that they’ve taken in lives and equipment has been terrible, but the U.S. Army hopes to alleviate some of this with new vehicle and body blast sensors shipping to Afghanistan in August 2012. These sensors, built jointly with Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force are part of wireless information network designed to aid doctors and engineers by collecting blast and pressure data from the vehicles and soldiers themselves... Continue Reading U.S. soldiers wired to record blast effects

Successful launch of NASA's Degradation Free Spectrometers

On July 24, 2012, NASA successfully launched a pair of newly developed spectrometers aboard a sounding rocket from the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico to an altitude of 323.8 km (201.2 mi). This may not seem to have much to do with extending the life of a satellite floating between the Sun and Earth about 1.5 million kilometers (932,000 mi) away, but it does. That’s because the tests purpose was both to test new instruments for a potential future replacement of the SOHO solar observatory satellite and to recalibrate SOHO’s existing instruments... Continue Reading Successful launch of NASA's Degradation Free Spectrometers

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Monkeys' brains controlled using light

We've all been there. Your monkey is throwing a fit, jumping on the furniture, screeching like a furry banshee and hurling unmentionable things all over the place. At times like this, wouldn't it be great if you could just shine a light and control the monkey’s brain? Sorry, that isn’t possible (yet), but researchers have succeeded in stimulating a monkey’s brain with a remarkable level of precision using impulses of light aimed at specific kinds of neural cells. It may not be much help to desperate monkey owners, but it does provide hope of new treatments for sufferers of many neurological disorders... Continue Reading Monkeys' brains controlled using light

Water supplement for bees is claimed to prevent Colony Collapse Disorder

Around the world, honey bees have been vanishing at an alarming rate. Since bees not only provide honey, but are also vital for pollinating crops, this is not only distressing, it also puts agriculture at risk. The reasons for this decline are still unknown, but a Florida-based company claims to have found a solution in the form of a concentrated organic feed supplement. BeesVita is purported to not only protect bee colonies in danger of collapsing, but actually causes them to grow and thrive... Continue Reading Water supplement for bees is claimed to prevent Colony Collapse Disorder

The ISS gets an aquarium

The International Space Station is a little homier now thanks to its new aquarium. This addition isn't just intended to brighten up the lunch room - it’s a serious piece of experimental hardware built by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and delivered the the ISS on Friday, July 27, 2012 by the unmanned Japanese cargo ship, Kounotori3 (HTV3). The special aqueous habitat will be used to study the effects of the space environment on marine life... Continue Reading The ISS gets an aquarium

Robot aids surgeons in catheter procedures, helps avoid radiation

When we think about a heart operation, it’s only natural to be concerned about the risks faced by the patient. What is overlooked is that the surgeon often faces risks in the operating theater as well. All the modern surgical paraphernalia may make cardiac medicine tremendously more advanced than it was a generation ago, but some of that equipment uses radiation that can be very dangerous to be around ... and surgeons are around it a lot. To help alleviate this, Corindus Vascular Robotics of Natick, Massachusetts, developed the CorPath 200 System. It’s a robot-assisted catheter system for unblocking arteries that allows cardiac surgeons to operate from a protective lead-lined cockpit while carrying out cardiac stent and balloon procedures... Continue Reading Robot aids surgeons in catheter procedures, helps avoid radiation

Saturday, 28 July 2012

FITSAT-1 satellite scheduled to write Morse code in the sky

We like to think of space as the one place where all tech is high and all gadgets are bleeding edge. That may be the case most of the time, but Japan’s Fukuoka Institute of Technology is taking one small step backward for man by sending a satellite into orbit that uses Morse code and bursts of light to send messages back to base. FITSAT-1, which will be launched from the International Space Station in September 2012, will use LEDs to flash Morse code messages like an outer space Aldis lamp that may be bright enough to see by the public with the naked eye. .. Continue Reading FITSAT-1 satellite scheduled to write Morse code in the sky

Friday, 27 July 2012

Engineering students build robot capable of creating theoretically infinite WiFi network

In a little over a decade WiFi has flourished to become something that we take for granted every time we go to a coffee shop. The only problem is that in situations where WiFi would be most useful, such as on the battlefield or in a disaster areas, it’s least likely to be available. That’s the problem being tackled by a team of seven undergraduate students at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. As part of their senior project for the Northeastern’s Capstone design program, the team designed and built a robot that can enter rugged territory and create a theoretically infinite WiFi networks as it goes. .. Continue Reading Engineering students build robot capable of creating theoretically infinite WiFi network

Thursday, 26 July 2012

DARPA awards contract to create "smart suit" to improve soldiers' endurance

The Pentagon has long had a fascination with machines that turn soldiers into supermen. Back in the 1960s, it funded General Electric’s work on Hardiman, an exoskeleton that was intended to allow its operator to lift loads of 1,500 lbs (680 kg). Almost half a century later, it’s still pouring money into all sorts of exoskeletons, assisted lifting devices (think robotrousers) and similar aids. Now Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has been selected by DARPA to spearhead the effort to develop a new “smart suit” intended to improve the endurance of soldiers in the field... Continue Reading DARPA awards contract to create "smart suit" to improve soldiers' endurance

iRobot introduces telepresence doctor

In a medical emergency, seconds count. But if the doctor needed is in another part of the hospital or even another part of town, then those seconds can stretch dangerously. If only the doctor could be in two places at once, then countless lives could be saved. This is one of the most promising applications in the emerging field oftelepresence robotics and RP-VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) - a joint development by the robotics firm iRobot and telemedicine company InTouch Health - is aiming to bring this closer to reality. .. Continue Reading iRobot introduces telepresence doctor

Jet-fuel powered Cessna flies cheaper and greener

The Cessna Aircraft Company is looking to make small planes a little cheaper to fuel and greener to fly with its new Cessna Turbo 182 NXT. Unveiled on Monday, July 23, at the 2012 Airventure airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the aircraft is a single-engine prop plane that is the first to burn Jet A aviation fuel. This change makes the plane cheaper to fuel, get better mileage and performance, as well as operate more environmentally friendly... Continue Reading Jet-fuel powered Cessna flies cheaper and greener

HemoGlobe device works with a smartphone to detect anemia

A terrible scourge in the developing world, anemia claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Medical tests to detect the condition and prevent tragedy are often unavailable, but students at John Hopkins University have invented a sensor that turns a cell phone into an inexpensive blood analysis tool. At an awards ceremony in Seattle on July 14, the bioengineernig undergraduates revealed their device, the HemoGlobe, which will soon be undergoing testing in Africa. Read More

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

NASA's first new spacesuit in 20 years is its own airlock

The current US space suit used by NASA is a dinosaur. Designed in 1992, it was only ever intended to be used by crews aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. That may have been good enough in the days of 14 kps modems, but with eyes turning increasingly toward missions to the Moon, Mars and the asteroids, space explorers need something better. That’s why NASA is designing its first new suit in twenty years. Developed by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES), the Z-1 prototype space suit currently undergoing vacuum testing at the Johnson Space Center is a wearable laboratory of new technology. And it’s a hatchback... Continue Reading NASA's first new spacesuit in 20 years is its own airlock

UCLA produces transparent solar cells that harness infrared light

A UCLA team has developed a new type of solar cell that is nearly 70 percent transparent to the naked eye. The plastic cells, which use infrared instead of visible light, are also more economical than other types of cells because they are made by an inexpensive polymer solution process and nanowire technology, potentially paving the way for cheaper solar windows... Continue Reading UCLA produces transparent solar cells that harness infrared light

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

U.S. Army to test female-specific body armor

Body armor is the blessing and the curse of soldiers. Modern tactical armor has saved thousands of lives from bullets and bombs, but it can also be a major problem if it doesn’t fit properly. That’s what the women who make up 14 percent of the US Army face on a regular basis. Now, according to the Army News Service, the Army is preparing to test a new armor that is tailored to the female form to replace the standard men’s armor that the women now use. Working on data collected in studies overseas and at stateside army bases, the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier has identified several problem areas and has developed a new armor that will be tested in 2013... Continue Reading U.S. Army to test female-specific body armor

Monday, 23 July 2012

NASA tests IRVE-3 inflatable heat shield in hypersonic flight

Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) scored another hit in the prediction department on Monday, July 23, 2012 when NASA tested an inflatable heat shield that he foresaw back in the 1980s. The test of the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by rocket into a suborbital trajectory from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. The unmanned vehicle reached velocities of up to 7,600 mph (12,231 kph), yet was protected from atmospheric heating by the mushroom-shaped shield... Continue Reading NASA tests IRVE-3 inflatable heat shield in hypersonic flight

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Raytheon developing missile-ramming Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle

If you visit the Blue & Gray Museum in Decatur, Alabama, you’ll see a remarkable curiosity – two bullets that collided in midair during a battle in the American Civil War. What does this have to do with ballistic missile defense in the 21st century? Everything, because that's exactly what the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) being developed as part of the American Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) missile defense system is intended to do – destroy high-speed ballistic missile warheads in flight by hitting them head on. .. Continue ReadingRaytheon developing missile-ramming Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

VARIES project proposes antimatter starship mission

As Douglas Adams said, “Space is Big. Really Big." And that’s the major obstacle for travelling between the stars. But a new proposal published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society promises to shrink that distance just a bit. Physics and technology consultant Richard Obousy claims that an antimatter starship that creates its own fuel from the vacuum of space itself would be capable of making a return journey to the nearest star and back within one lifetime... Continue Reading VARIES project proposes antimatter starship mission

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Inexpensive device could allow the disabled to control computers with their eyes

Bioengineers at Imperial College, London have developed a new computer controller for paraplegics that is not only more accurate and easier to use than current methods, but also uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf components. The GT3D device uses a pair of eyeglass frames with two fast video game console cameras costing less than UKP20 (US$30) each, which scan the wearer’s eyes from outside the field of vision and provide “3D” control at much lower costs and without invasive surgery... Continue Reading Inexpensive device could allow the disabled to control computers with their eyes

Sunday, 15 July 2012

New catalyst could replace platinum to bring down the cost of microbial fuel cells

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified an inexpensive nanorod catalyst with efficiencies rivalling that of platinum. Composed of nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods, the new catalyst holds the promise of cheaper, more efficient microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that generate their own hydrogen from waste water.. Continue Reading New catalyst could replace platinum to bring down the cost of microbial fuel cells

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

DARPA crowdsourcing tank design to speed up heavy weapons development

The U.S. Defense Department think tank DARPA is offering US$10,000 in prizes as part of a competition to introduce crowdsourcing to heavy weapons development and manufacturing. By adopting the”democratized” strategy of crowdsourcing for the development of the Fast, Adaptable Next-Generation armored vehicle (FANG), DARPA hopes to speed up the design and manufacturing of such weapons while reducing costs and introducing greater design flexibility... Continue Reading DARPA crowdsourcing tank design to speed up heavy weapons development

Wine Tasting

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Coming to the crossroads

You may have noticed that posts have been a bit sparse lately on Ephemeral Isle and non-exist on its sister blogs.  That's for a number of reasons.  I've been very busy with clients and deadlines, I had to deal with a medical scare that turned out to be a false alarm and my liver isn't packing up after all, but the biggest reason is that both my wife and I are undergoing some major career shifts that will completely change our routines for at least the next year.  It's a sound plan and will put us on a much better footing, but it also means making some sacrifices and hard choices.

I've been running EI since 2004 and since then I've started three other blogs.  They've been great fun and I love doing them, but they were never meant to be a hobby.  They were intended to attract traffic to Tales of Future Past and my freelance writing business with the side benefit of generating some advertising revenue.  In other words, it's a business.  Unfortunately, it hasn't created either the revenue nor traffic nor demonstration of growth  to justify as much effort as I've put into them.  In other other words, I can't justify the investment.  Therefore, I've had to do some serious thinking and I've concluded that blogs are going to have to take a backseat to my other endeavours until the financial situation improves drastically.

That doesn't mean that I'm quitting.  It does mean, however, that I'm going to be cutting back considerably.  The other blogs will be only occasional affairs with postings made when time and suitable material collide.  As to EI, I'll still do the video features, so there'll always be something here, but the four posts a day routine will fall back to posting what I think is the most interesting or important as time permits on an irregular basis.

Thanks to all my regular readers, thanks for your support and please subscribe to the RSS feed so you won't miss what does come up.

Ta for now.

Space 1999: Black Sun